Phyllis Catherine Ludwig Porter

MADISON- Phyllis Catherine Ludwig Porter, beloved mother, grandmother, sister, aunt, and mentor to many, died Monday, Oct. 22, 2018, after a long and active life. She had a rock-solid faith in Jesus and dedicated her life to helping others. She was positive and upbeat, kind and smart, capable, strong, dramatic and funny. 

She was born in 1927 in Detroit, Michigan to Reginald and Anna Ludwig. A depression era strategy, her family spent summers camping along Lake Erie, fueling her lifelong love of the outdoors. In 1945 she graduated from Detroit’s Thomas M. Cooley High School. An accomplished pianist, she earned a music scholarship to college. Her parents’ serious auto accident forced her to forgo college, working instead as a Michigan Bell telephone operator to help pay for their medical bills. She told a lot of funny stories from this period of her life. 

Phyllis fell in love with and married Dean Porter in 1952 and they had three children. In 1961 Dean had a stroke and she was told he would not live. She prayed and when he survived, they turned their lives over to God. Her life became a testament to the faith she put in Jesus. 

Phyllis and Dean moved from Detroit, to East Lansing, MI., Madison, Wheaton IL., and then back to Madison, and each time she established a new home for her family and developed dear friendships. In their Apache tent trailer, she and Dean took their children camping across the country. She also enjoyed traveling with Dean in the U.S. and to many places in the world. 

Phyllis was theatrical and had a beautiful trained voice and sang in local opera companies and at church. She was also a very creative person, and an amazing seamstress and crafter. Known as “Ms. Phyl” she used these skills to create art projects for children she taught at High Point Church until she was 85. 

After her kids were grown, she studied and became a licensed realtor and was the first campground host at Devil’s Lake State Park. After Dean’s death, she lived bravely and independently, even going on mission trips to Guatemala, Pakistan and to the United Arab Emirates.

She loved her aerobic swim friends at Swim West and her neighbors at Whitcomb where she continued to open her home to friends, foreign students and missionaries. She was dedicated to her High Point Church family, serving as receptionist and Sunday morning greeter until she had a massive stroke in May 2017. She lived the rest of her life, a witness in courage, faith and generosity of spirit. 

She loved her children and grandchildren and wanted them to love God and help others. She is survived by her three children, Deb McLeish, John Porter and Pam Porter; grandchildren, Griffin FittsPorter and Kailyn FittsPorter; and her sister, Esther Reilly.

The family extends the deepest thanks to the amazing staff at St Mary’s Care Center for providing her with dignity, comfort, and truly quality care. Thanks also to those friends who visited, loved and cared for her during the 18 months she lived there. 

A memorial service in celebration of her life will be held at HIGH POINT CHURCH, 7702 Old Sauk Rd., Madison, at 3 p.m. on Saturday, Nov. 17, 2018, with Pastor Lloyd Biddle officiating. A reception will be served afterward.

Friends wishing to honor Phyllis’ memory may consider a memorial in her name that has been established at High Point Church.

Online condolences may be made at

Gunderson East
Funeral & Cremation Care
5203 Monona Dr.
(608) 221-5420

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